Joe Biden recalls his memories of ‘persuasive’ Margaret Thatcher
Mr Biden, the US President-elect, has had a long career in politics spanning 50 years. First entering the Senate at the age of 30, Mr Biden has since run for President three times. The veteran politician has crossed paths with many notable world leaders during this period.
While Mr Biden was chair of the Senate in the 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher enjoyed close relations.
Ms Thatcher and Mr Reagan have been largely attributed with pushing modern Western Conservatism onto the global political stage.
Yet, despite US-UK ties being at an all-time high, many US politicians were unsure where to stand on the pressing issue of the Falkland Islands and who to back in the event of war.
It was around this time that, during one of Ms Thatcher’s frequent visits to the US, she changed the mind of one of her American colleagues.
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My Biden’s recollection came shortly after Ms Thatcher’s death in 2013 and, offering his condolences, he reminded those present of Ms Thatcher’s political prowess.
He said: “I don’t know if it’s appropriate but I was sharing this story with the ambassador, we were talking about Jesse Helms, me and him alternated being chairman and ranking members of the foreign relations committee – he adored Margaret Thatcher.
“I had the occasion numerous times to be with the Prime Minister, and this time was just prior to the Falklands War began.
“She came to visit, and she walked into the foreign relations committee room, and in all the 30 years I served with Jesse Helms, I never saw anyone melt this man’s heart.
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“She walked in and came over to Jesse and grabbed him by the lapels, she said, ‘Jesse, I can’t believe this, you’re sympathetic to the Argentinians. I can’t believe you’d do this to me, Jesse.’
“And he ummed and ahhed and ended up changing his position – you think I’m joking, I am not joking.
“Everybody talks about her persuasive powers, well, with Jesse and with the President she was very persuasive, very effective.”
Despite holding a deep respect for Ms Thatcher, Mr Biden was naturally opposed to her during her time as Prime Minister.
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This was a result of his fierce conflict with President Reagan.
One of the biggest sticking points was apartheid in South Africa, of which Mr Biden was vehemently opposed to.
He repeatedly slammed what he perceived as the Reagan administration’s lack of action to end the segregation and violence in the region.
In a famous 1986 Senate speech, he accused the US of having a lack of “moral backbone” over the ordeal.
He said: “What disturbs me more than the policy is the rationale for the policy.
“The rationale for the policy you set out for principles that you adhere to.
“You say on page 14 ‘we must not become South Africa’s problem, we must remain part of their solution, we must not aim to impose ourselves, our solutions, our favourites in South Africa’.
“Damn it, we have favourites in South Africa – the favourites in South Africa are the people being suppressed by that ugly white regime.
“We have favourites – our loyalty is not to South Africa it’s to South Africans – and the South Africans are majority black, and they are being excoriated.”
Meanwhile, it is looking more likely by the day that President Donald Trump will allow for a smooth transition of power in January 2021.
Mr Trump launched a tirade against Mr Biden’s election victory, claiming that electoral fraud was widespread as a result of mass postal voting.
He has since, however, appeared to be more accepting of the result.
Yesterday, Mr Trump said he will leave the White House when the Electoral College votes for Mr Biden – the closest he has come to conceding defeat.
Mr Biden won the election with 306 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 required.
Mr Trump secured just 232.
Mr Biden also leads Mr Trump by more than six million in the popular vote.
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